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Music pupils lost all marks for short performances

Ofqual consults on changing 'severe' rule that saw GCSE, AS and A-level music candidates pay heavy penalty

music education

Ofqual consults on changing 'severe' rule that saw GCSE, AS and A-level music candidates pay heavy penalty

Some pupils sitting GCSEs, AS and A levels in music ended up with no marks in the performance element of their exam because their performances were too short, it has emerged.

Ofqual announced today that it was consulting on its rules after the exam regulator revealed that some candidates had lost all the marks for their performances.

In the reformed music qualifications, as well as dance, pupils are required to undertake a performance assessment.

Under Ofqual’s current rules, “the only evidence which will be admissible” is a performance of a stated minimum duration. If a candidate gives a performance below that minimum, the exam board has to award them zero marks.

In a consultation published this afternoon, Ofqual says it had “expected that students would therefore select pieces that would comfortably meet the minimum length requirements”.

However, the consultation says Ofqual had “seen that some students have selected pieces which, when performed, have fallen short of the minimum time”.

The rule means that music candidates will have lost all their marks by either choosing a piece that was too short, by performing the piece more quickly than intended, or by not completing the performance in full.

“In some cases, we think it may be disproportionately severe in such circumstances to prevent students from gaining any marks at all,” the consultation states.

The consultation proposes a rule change whereby students would still be penalised in some way for short performances, but “exam boards should be allowed to determine how they do this”.

While Ofqual said it was “not aware” of any students who had received no marks for short performances in their dance exams, “as the wording of the conditions for the performance assessment in these qualifications is similar to…music, there is a risk that similar issues could arise”. For this reason, the regulator has proposed the same change for dance.

The consultation closes 9 December.

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